Opioid abuse is highly prevalent in patients with back pain. The aim of this study was to identify health care utilization and overall costs associated with opioid dependence in patients undergoing surgery for degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS).
The authors queried the MarketScan database using ICD-9 and CPT-4 codes from 2000 to 2012. Opioid dependency was defined as having a diagnosis of opioid use disorder, having a prescription for opioid use disorder, or having 10 or more opioid prescriptions. Opioid dependency was evaluated in 12-month period leading to surgery and in the period 3–15 months following the procedure. Patients were segregated into 4 groups based on opioid dependence before and after surgery: group NDND (prior nondependent who remain nondependent), group NDD (prior nondependent who become dependent), group DND (prior dependent who become nondependent), and group DD (prior dependent who remain dependent). The outcomes of interest were discharge disposition, hospital length of stay (LOS), complications, and health care resource costs. The 4 groups were compared using the Kruskal-Wallis test and linear contrasts built from generalized regression models.
A total of 10,708 patients were identified, with 81.57%, 3.58%, 8.54%, and 6.32% of patients in groups NDND, NDD, DND, and DD, respectively. In group DD, 96.31% of patients had decompression with fusion, compared with 93.59% in group NDND. Patients in group NDD, DND, and DD had longer hospital LOS compared with those in group NDND. Patients in group DD were less likely to be discharged home compared with those in group NDND (odds ratio 0.639, 95% confidence interval 0.52–0.785). At 3–15 months postdischarge, patients in group DD incurred 21% higher hospital readmission costs compared with those in group NDND. However, patients in groups NDD and DD were likely to incur 2.8 times the overall costs compared with patients in group NDND (p < 0.001) at 3–15 months after surgery (median overall payments: group NDD $20,033 and group DD $19,654, vs group NDND $7994).
Patients who continued to be opioid dependent or became opioid dependent following surgery for DS incurred significantly higher health care utilization and costs within 3 months and in the period 3–15 months after discharge from surgery.